In the spring of 2009, my wife's future was becoming the present rapidly. Motherhood for her was soon to take a drastic change. A change that through the years seemed would be an eternity to manifest.
The youngest of five children was about to graduate high school. The nest would soon be empty. To add to the change in the home dynamic, I was scheduled to leave for work at a remote camp for the summer construction season.
Over the years, we spoke of adding another dog to our family. We already had one dog we raised from puppy-hood. She is a lab mix adopted from the animal shelter February 2002. A Valentines gift from my wife.
Adding another dog to the mix seemed a perfect diversion for my wife to head-off the potential for empty nest syndrome.
So, committed to this plan, I was in search for a perfect canine companion for my wife.
In my search, I reflected on my childhood. The first dog I recall was a St. Bernard. I remember this dog well - as a puppy, and then as a 6 month old behemoth. Thankfully my parents' wisdom had a chance to present itself and they found a new home for her in the mountains. The Phoenix climate was just too extreme.
I also remember a Sheltie, but she (and the cat) decided to pick up and go one day, never to be seen again.
In the end, it was a German shepherd that became my official boyhood companion. Additionally, my aunt had a whole slew of GSDs on her horse ranch on the foothills of South Mountain. As a result, I had no ill stigma about the breed. Quite the contrary, I came to know GSDs as the king of all dogs.
Armed with this prejudice, all that was left to do was to decide what GSD to purchase.
Being partial to GSDs, I recall as a youth a police K9 at a city park event one day. The dog was much bigger than mine and had a beautiful black and tan coat. What I remember the most about that dog was his rear legs. They didn't look right. In fact they looked crippled.
Soon I learned that opinions about a GSDs physical characteristics varied widely. Armed with that knowledge as an adult, it became my opinion that a dog should be useful in a utility sense. Pomeranians and Lhasa apsos just don't cut it. Neither does a "working-dog" that walks funny for the sake of a "physical standard."
In the end, our dog must not only look like and act like a German shepherd, but perform like one too.
As it turns out, there is a set of breeders that insist on the same regardless of the ways into which "the standards" are interpreted.
The problem, however, is that there is no means to vet a puppy with these goals in mind to a 100% certainty.
What you do have are the puppies parents, strength of pedigree, the puppy himself and a bit of luck. Armed with that we settled on Kohl, a 4 month old male. Over two years later, luck has been ours. Our choice was correct.
Needless to say, Kohl certainly kept my wife busy that summer.
The two of them bonded so well in fact, that when we went on a vacation to Hawaii for two weeks that fall, it only took a few days for my wife to express that she wanted to go home to be with her dog. She wasn't making an idle comment either. She was seriously considering doing just that.
Now that Kohl positioned himself nicely as the number one "son," all he needed to do was continue to grow and not mess up.
Of course, he did grow, and he continued to impress us with his intelligence, athleticism and unflinching devotion.
Next: There is a female GSD in town!